Latest: China reports 62 new cases, 1 billion vaccinated

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In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, residents wait in line for nucleic acid testing in Xianyou county, Putian city, southeastern China’s Fujian Province Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. China has reported another 62 cases of COVID-19, even as the number of Chinese citizens fully vaccinated has topped 1 billion. (Wei Peiquan/Xinhua via AP)

BEIJING — China has reported another 62 cases of COVID-19, even as the number of Chinese citizens fully vaccinated has topped 1 billion.

All but one of the cases was detected over the previous 24 hours in the eastern coastal province of Fujian in China’s latest outbreak of the delta variant, the National Health Commission said on Friday.

Of those, 31 were in the major port city of Xiamen, with 28 others in the city of Putian and one in the city of Quanzhou.

That came a day after health officials announced that more than 1 billion Chinese, or 72% of all 1.4 billion citizens of the world’s most populous country, have been fully vaccinated. The National Health Commission says 2.16 billion doses have been administered.

Nearly 300 cases have been detected in Fujian over the past week, prompting authorities to lock down affected neighborhoods, close schools and entertainment venues and restrict travel out of the province.

China has largely stopped the spread by imposing restrictions and mass testing whenever new cases are found. It also limits entry to the country and requires people who arrive to quarantine in a hotel for at least two weeks.

The efficacy of Chinese vaccines has been questioned, however, and it’s not clear how many of those newly infected had received their jabs.

China has recorded a total of 4,636 deaths among 95,577 cases of COVID-19, with 916 people currently receiving treatment for the disease.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Floridasurpasses 50K COVID deaths after battling delta wave

— UN rule may be hurdle for Brazil vaccine skeptic Bolsonaro

— COVID-19 surge forces health care rationing in parts of West

— Italian workersin both the public and private sectors will be obliged to provide a health pass to access the workplace from Oct. 15.

— Two dozen Republican attorneys generalare warning the White House of impending legal action if a proposed coronavirus vaccine requirement for as many as 100 million Americans goes into effect.

— A new study ties the COVID-19 pandemic to an “alarming” increase inobesity in U.S. children and teenagers.

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— See AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

CANBERRA, Australia — Australians will soon have a third COVID-19 vaccine option with 1 million Moderna shots about to arrive in Sydney.

Moderna will arrive in two shipments on Friday night and over the weekend, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

Australians currently have access to Pfizer and AstraZeneca as authorities race to build the population’s immunity against the delta variant that has taken hold in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

Pfizer is the preferred option for many because of the slight risk of blood clots from AstraZeneca.

Moderna, like Pfizer, is an mRNA vaccine. Australia has failed to source sufficient Pfizer to meet demand, while there is a surplus of locally manufactured AstraZeneca.

Over 70% of the Australian population aged 16 and older had taken at least one dose of a two-shot vaccine, Hunt said.

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SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea has reported more than 2,000 new cases of the coronavirus, nearing a one-day record set last month, continuing an alarming surge as the nation enters its biggest holiday of the year.

The 2,008 cases reported Friday was the 73rd consecutive day of over 1,000 despite officials enforcing the country’s strongest social distancing rules short of a lockdown in capital Seoul and other large population centers for the past 10 weeks.

More than 1,500 of the new case came from the greater Seoul area, home to half of a population of more than 51 million, where infections have surged as schools reopened and people returned from summer vacations in recent weeks.

There are concerns that transmissions will worsen nationwide the Chuseok holiday break, the Korean version of Thanksgiving that begins over the weekend and continues through next Wednesday. Millions usually travel across the to meet relatives during Chuseok.

“We plead once again that people who aren’t fully vaccinated not to visit their aging parents who are in their 60s or older,” Deputy Health Minister Lee Ki-il said during a briefing. “In the greater capital area, transmissions are continuously happening at indoor gyms, cram schools, churches and wherever there’s many people in confined spaces. Capital area residents should always keep in mind that they could get infected any where at any time, and be very careful.”

___ JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska’s state epidemiologist says Alaska is experiencing “one of the sharpest surges” in COVID-19 in the country.

Dr. Joe McLaughlin added that it’s not clear when the situation might stabilize. He says a lot will depend on vaccination rates and measures such as masking and distancing.

Health officials says hospitals are stressed, with staffing and capacity issues. The state health department reports 20% of patients hospitalized in Alaska have COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau announced Thursday that as a condition of employment, staff must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 15.

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RENO, Nev. — Nevada officials believe some state employees may follow through on threats to quit their jobs if forced to get COVID-19 shots.

But they said Thursday they expect most will comply with Gov. Steve Sisolak’s mandate that workers at health care facilities and prisons be vaccinated by Nov. 1 or face administrative leave or reassignment.

DuAne Young, the governor’s policy director, says they are developing contingency plans in the event more people quit their jobs than expected and monitoring the situation closely.

He says they believe there will be some attrition, but in the end, most state employees will “step up and do what is right.”

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SEATTLE — Seattle and King County officials have issued a health directive requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test to enter certain establishments and attend large outdoor events.

Public Health-Seattle & King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin issued the order Thursday to go into effect Oct. 25. Duchin says high levels of preventable COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and increased deaths driven by the highly contagious delta variant prompted the order.

The order applies to outdoor events with 500 or more people and indoor establishments such as museums, theaters, gyms, restaurants and bars.

The order does not affect outdoor dining, take-out orders and shopping in places including grocery stores.

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JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi has surpassed New Jersey as the state with the highest rate of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., with roughly 1 of every 320 Mississippians having succumbed to the coronavirus.

The state’s top health official on Thursday warned that more deaths will come.

“We’re recording well over 2,500 (cases) a day, in recent days, far more than we’d like to see,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “A lot of that’s going to translate into the tragedy.”

Since the start of the pandemic, at least 9,165 people in Mississippi have died of the virus. The state has a population of roughly 3 million and has had one of the worst vaccination rates in the country.

New Jersey was throttled in the spring of 2020 at the start of the pandemic, long before vaccines were available.

Of specific concern during the delta variant surge in Mississippi have been pregnant mothers, Dobbs said. Over the course of the pandemic, 15 pregnant women in Mississippi have died of coronavirus, according to the Department of Health. Eight of those deaths occurred between July 25 and Sept. 16.

The age range of the mothers who died was between 23 and 40, with the median age being 30. Dobbs said 60% were Black. None of the women were fully vaccinated. One woman had received her first shot.

As for health conditions, “some were overweight, but so are the majority of Mississippians, so I don’t think that that’s much of a surprise,” Dobbs said.

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HELENA, Mont. — A hospital in Helena was forced to implement crisis standards of care amid a surge in COVID-19 patients, hospital officials said Thursday.

Critical care resources are at maximum capacity at St. Peter’s Health hospital. Crisis standards of care are implemented when hospital resources are not sufficient to provide full care to all patients in the facility. Under such conditions, care providers must sometimes choose how to allocate scare resources including medications and beds.

St. Peter’s Health chief medical officer Dr. Shelly Harkins said the constraints in the hospital are worse than what was seen earlier in the pandemic.

“For the first time in my career, we are at the point where not every patient in need will get the care that we might wish we could give,” Harkins said. “By almost every single measure we are in a far worse position than we ever were in the winter of 2020, during our first surge.”

The hospital’s intensive care unit, advanced medical unit and morgue are full. A freezer truck in the parking lot of the hospital will be used because the morgue remains full.

Hospitals in Utah, Idaho, Washington and Texas have reached out to St. Peter’s Health looking for beds for patients who cannot be served in their home state. The news comes as facilities in Bozeman and Billings said this week that they are nearing the point of having to implement crisis standards of care.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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